Four Points on the Climb to Success
May 15, 2006

Canadian companies are winning – and growing – business in the US market for defence and security technology. Can your company win in that marketplace? How long will it take? What makes a company successful? All good questions.

While the effort to win US government defence and security business is an uphill climb, more companies than ever before are attempting, and succeeding at, the ascent. Four of Canada’s leading niche technology exporters in this high-stakes, potentially rewarding, market ­generously shared their experiences, which offer insights for those at every point along the trek.

A recent report, Homeland Security Markets in the Northeast USA, published in April 2006 by International Trade Canada, sought to answer those questions and provide insight into upcoming opportunities that are open to Canadian industry.

This report includes contacts for state government decision-makers, background on leading regional contractors at the ­federal and state levels, and explains how state governments buy systems and solutions to meet their homeland security needs.

When Louis Poisson, Senior Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate General in New York, commissioned the report, he wanted to be sure to include insights into how Canadian companies are faring in a marketplace that many think is somewhere between indifferent and downright hostile to Canadian ­vendors, technologies and solutions.

While the lessons are many, three themes emerge clearly for those who are working their way up the market entry learning curve.

Laser-tight focus on a high-demand niche you can dominate.
Both Extreme CCTV and NGRAIN took time in the early years to identify a clientele that was hungry for the application capability that their technologies could offer.

NGRAIN took a year to analyse 16 industries where 3D technology could add value, and then another two years to further narrow the focus and prototype business problems that they could solve in each industry. At that point, “Aerospace and defence started to stand out,” recalls Gabe Batstone.

Extreme CCTV was guided by Jack Gin’s vision: “We went to a niche – active infrared night vision – where we knew there was no established market leadership and which would be attractive to customers worldwide.”

“Decide what you’re going to do, and be sure it’s something you’re very, very good at. Start small, start early, and win small. Get that first order,” advises Gin. “If you start small, you can put good money into making sure you deliver well.”

While Bulldog Technologies is in a competitive market niche, their online announcements of product and of new client relationships certainly reflect that intent to focus. Comparatively, Cartenav’s web site doesn’t yet reflect quite as much focus… and web sites are a key influence on clients, prospects and potential teaming partners.

Sales team balance of domain expertise and contact networks.
“A big part of the military is relationships,” explains Batstone. “Once we committed to a military focus, we began to get people onto our company’s senior management team who have played a ­significant role in that environment.” Bulldog is on track with this one: they’ve appointed new board members to manage their newly-formed federal division.

At Extreme CCTV, Gin recounts, “we did demos to the right people at the right venues; and targeted sales efforts to the right alliance partners and systems integrators.”

What venues might work best for Cartenav? The firm is evaluating the results of their debut at the Maritime Security Expo in New York last fall. “We were in the booth with the Government of Canada. That helped us financially and gave us more visibility than we would have gotten on our own,” recalls Michel Lechmann.

Outperform the market, and leverage that experience.
Extreme CCTV and NGRAIN turn to industry publications and events to gain visibility and build credibility in the marketplace. “We took the time to build our reputation and become a trusted name,” said Jack Gin. In addition to publishing white papers, “I speak at security events so that our company becomes a recognized authority in our industry.”

NGRAIN is also starting to get recognition for its expertise: this spring, Military Training Technology named the firm among the top 100 military training companies, and the firm has also been listed as one of the top 20 defence companies in Canada.

Bulldog Technologies is right on track with this one – their web site features their latest corporate achievements, product launches and contract wins. Cartenav, even at this early stage in its marketing, could certainly consider doing the same.

Extreme CCTV and NGRAIN have traced a track for success that both Bulldog Technologies and Cartenav Solutions would appear to have in their sights, and one which offers a guiding path for others to follow.

Judy Bradt is the author of the report Homeland Security Markets in the Northeast USA. For more tips and practical advice on partnership development and cost estimates for market entry planning, as well as contacts and procedures for state government decision-making, and leading suppliers of systems and solutions to meet homeland security needs in the Northeast US states, download the report from
© FrontLine Defence 2006